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"Everything would be fine if I just got some sleep!"

Man, that's scary. A frightening image from Ring.
Year: 1998  
Director: Hideo Nakata  
Producer: Tsutomu Tsuchikawa  
Cast: Orie Izuno, Nanako Matsushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Miki Nakatani, Yuko Takeuchi, Hitomi Sato, Yoichi Numata, Yutaka Matsushige, Katsumi Muramatsu, Rikiya Otaka, Masako, Daisuke Ban, Kiyoshi Risho, Masahiko Ono
The Skinny: A reporter and her ex-husband investigate the urban legend of a videotape whose viewers receive a mysterious phone call and then seven days later. This cult Japanese horror hit was recently remade in the US by Dreamworks Pictures.
     Ring was such a huge hit in Japan that it spawned two sequels, a television drama, and laid the blueprint for many imitators to follow. That said, the less you know about the film going in, the better.
     Reporter Reiko (Nanako Matsushima) begins to investigate a mysterious videotape after her niece dies seven days after watching it. The plot thickens after Reiko watches it, and then receives a call that she too will die. Even worse, she accidentally leaves the tape out for her young son to watch. With the clock on their lives, Reiko enlists the aid of her estranged husband (Hiroyuki Sanada). Unfortunately, he also watches the tape and now the race is on to solve the mystery of the videocassette - and hopefully save all of their lives before the seven days are up.
      At this point the movie takes on an urgency that builds in intensity as the mystery is slowly unraveled. The images on the videotape (which include such shockers as a girl brushing her hair and a lonely well) are not scary in and of themselves, but are cut together in such a way that they are vague and unsettling. Instead of leaving the viewer feeling satisfied as each little bit of the tape's meaning is revealed, the viewer feels more and more uneasy. The filmmakers take pains to reveal just enough to get your imagination going, and they refuse to simply hand everything over on a silver platter.
     The first half of the film is as good a set up as you're likely to see in a film of this type but the second half never delivers fully on the payoff despite being superbly executed and very disturbing. To the film's credit, there is no bad guy like Freddy or Jason in Ring. Instead, we have the vengeful spirit of Sadako who, once her story is pieced together from the images on the tape, is quite sympathetic and worthy of further character development. The protagonists are the exact opposite as they routinely neglect their child for their careers. Everything is slightly askew in Ring and that's one reason why it works.
     Adding to its ambience is the soundtrack, or the lack of it. Silence, when used properly, can be very effective but it can sometimes hinders the film's pacing. This is especially true during the third act, as the vewer may find themselves fidgeting around. Then, after lots of waiting, certain plot points aren't resolved. It is never clearly explained where the videotape came from or why Reiko's actions don't remedy the situation. It's not an entirely unsatisfying (or unfrightening) ending but it doesn't quite live up to all that preceded it. The potential letdown could qualify the film as "overhyped", but it's still worth the effort if you like horror films heavy on atmosphere and light on the gore. (Magicvoice 2002)
Availability: DVD (USA)
Region 1 NTSC
Dreamworks Home Entertainment
Titled as Ringu
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Japanese Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and French Subtitles
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 Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen